Hey, French people! Watch out! Hollywood is coming for you!
Yep, it’s that time of year again ― when the starriest of stars invade France for a week to show off the year’s buzziest films from major auteurs, many of which hope to be factoring in during awards season. Many of the most talented filmmakers in the game have movies debuting at the Cannes Film Festival this year, from Steven Soderbergh to the Coen Brothers to Sofia Coppola and plenty more.
Check out our most anticipated films from this year’s fest!
1. The Bling Ring
Spring brought Spring Breakers, and summer brings The Bling Ring. There are at least a few surface similarities between the tale of Disney starlets gone wild (really wild) and this movie, which features Harry Potter’s Hermione also getting into a ton of trouble with her young friends. The movie is directed by Sofia Coppola, who has a lot to say about fame and celebrity in most of her movies (Marie Antoinette, Lost in Translation), and that’s definitely the case here, since this band of young thieves steals from the likes of Paris Hilton. Everyone’s got their eye on Emma Watson this summer as she transitions out of family-friendly and teen role and tries a bad girl part on for size. We think she can cut it!
2. Inside Llewyn Davis
Surely you remember Llewyn Davis, the folk singer/songwriter who burst onto New York’s music scene back in the early ‘60s? No? Well… that’s because he’s fictional, yet the film does recreate 1961 Greenwich Village with a soundtrack comprised of folk cover songs. The Coen brothers, who directed, reteam with legendary T Bone Burnett, who made O Brother, Where Art Thou? one of the most popular soundtracks ever. The film features Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac, and Justin Timberlake as musicians and, since it’s the Coen brothers, will probably be one of the most acclaimed films of the year. Its U.S. release date is December 6 ― yep, just in time for Oscar season.
3. Blood Ties
Director Guillaume Canet has been called “the Ben Affleck of France” because he started off as a prolific actor (appearing opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach and plenty of other English- and French-language movies). He also received acclaim for directing the 2006 thriller Tell No One. Blood Ties is his first English-language film, starring several familiar faces ― Clive Owen, Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, and Marion Cotillard, to name a few. It’s a story of organized crime in Brooklyn in ‘70s that is said to be one of Cannes’ hottest films this year, with a look that reminds us of some of the greatest crime films of the past (The Godfather, GoodFellas).
4. The Congress
Cannes may occur just as summer movie season is heating up, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find superheroes and sequels there. One of the best things about the fest is the diverse and innovative films that tend to pop up there, like The Congress, starring actress Robin Wright as an actress named Robin Wright. She decides to sell the animated rights to herself and from there ― well, it’s unclear just what happens, exactly, but the film is a mix of live-action and animation and is sure to be intriguing and visually arresting. Plus, it’s a chance to see a whole new side of Robin, who tends to play supporting roles in straightforward dramas. It’ll be fun to see her as the star of something dazzling and trippy for once!
5. Behind The Candelabra
Matt Damon has played gay before, but this time he’s playing really gay ― like, pretty much as gay as possible ― portraying Liberace’s much-younger lover in the biopic set to air on HBO later this month. (The real-life man he’s based on was 16 when they met… while Matt Damon is 42.) Michael Douglas and Matt Damon canoodling in sparkly clothing would normally be enough to get us to tune in out of curiosity all on its own, but this also happens to be the (supposedly) final film from one of Hollywood’s most respected filmmakers, Steven Soderbergh, so there’s extra reason to tune in. Even though it’s airing on TV this month the film is still eligible to compete for the Palme d’Or, the prestigious Best Picture award of the fest.
6. Fruitvale Station
The debut feature from USC alum Ryan Coogler received a ton of buzz and acclaim at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, emerging as the film to see this year and winning both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award. Obviously the film was a natural to get distribution, picked up by The Weinstein Company and set for a release this July. It’s the true story of the last day in the life of a man named Oscar Grant, who was shot by police at a BART station in Oakland, CA in 2009 ― unarmed, inciting many protests. The Help Oscar winner Octavia Spencer plays the victim’s mother and Chad Michael Murray is one of the police officers at the scene.
7. All Is Lost
Yep, this is exactly the kind of movie you’d expect to find at Cannes. Screen legend Robert Redford is the only actor appearing in J.C. Chandor’s survival film, so you’d probably guess that he has all the dialogue in the film. Wrong! There is no dialogue in the film. Following Margin Call, J.C. Chandor’s chatty drama about the recent financial collapse on Wall Street, this follows Robert Redford as a man lost at sea, filmed in the same water-logged studio built for Titanic. Given the title, we’re not sure this one will have a terribly upbeat ending...
8. As I Lay Dying
Renaissance man James Franco continues to add accomplishments to his resume with his first real attempt at a mainstream directorial effort. (As “mainstream” as an adaptation of a William Faulkner book can be, anyway.) James wrote and also stars in the adaptation of the classic (the first film version made in the 83 years since it was published), and as you might expect from such a title, it’s no feel-good film but rather tells the story of the death of a wife and mother who has had an affair with her minister, and how her family copes with it. James has had a buzzy year already starring in splashier films like Oz The Great and Powerful and Spring Breakers, but this is the project that might really take his career in a new direction if it ends up being good.
9. Ronny & i
Though the features from big-time filmmakers tend to take the majority of the buzz, at least one short film is also grabbing some buzz for a few reasons. First, it was executive produced by X-Men director Bryan Singer and Glee star Jane Lynch, it was shot entirely in under 24 hours, and the movie has been shot entirely on smart phones (but looks and sounds better than you’d think). It’s the story of two friends who go on a beach getaway together that changes when one of them reveals feelings for the other.
10. The Past
After he won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for A Separation, one of the most acclaimed films of the past several years, all eyes are on Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi to see what he’ll do next. And this is it. The star of another 2012 Oscar winner, Berenice Bejo of The Artist, plays a French woman divorcing her Iranian husband, with a similar look and feel to A Separation. Since Cannes embraces international films more than just about any other fest, this should play especially well here.
11. Only God Forgives
Arguably the most anticipated film of Cannes, and one of the most anticipated this year period, director Nicholas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling make another blood-soaked movie to follow up Drive. From the intriguing visuals and startling violence we’ve seen in the trailers to the Bangkok setting to the role of Kristin Scott Thomas as Ryan’s tacky-looking and ruthless mother, there’s basically no way that this won’t be one of the most exciting and offbeat cinematic experiences audiences have this year. Plus, um, it’s Ryan Gosling! He plays the owner of a boxing club, which required Ryan to learn the Thai combat sport Muay Thai, which means we’ll see plenty of Ryan kicking ass. And who doesn’t want to see that? We expect an Oscar nomination in Kristin Scott Thomas’ future, and perhaps a few more as well, if the film goes over as well as everyone is expecting. This is the type of movie Cannes was made for.
Which Cannes film are you most excited about?